THE MAN UPSTAIRS by T.L. Parkinson

THE MAN UPSTAIRS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An unusually disturbing first novel about newly divorced San Francisco hospital paper-pusher Michael West's psychosexual adventures among the tenants of his new building. The building and its denizens seem to have been dreamed up by Roman Polanski; any of them might be the late-night caller who announces: ``Hello, a demon told me to have sex with you, Michael West.'' There's Janette, who seduces Michael on his arrival like a dog marking out new territory; Patricia, the model who first appears as a ``shadow opening like a knife''; the divorced Frank, whose young son is found floating in the swimming pool one morning; and tall, dark- haired plastic-surgeon Paul Marks, the man upstairs, whose riotous couplings Michael can't help overhearing, then scaling the balcony to watch. Meanwhile, Michael's dog is growling and attacking him as if he were a stranger, and frequent checks in his mirror show that he's getting unmistakably taller and darker: in fact, he seems to be changing places not only with Marks (whose sexual violence he begins to wonder whether he's responsible for) but with his own reflection, which sucks him into mirrors and swimming pools while it carries on in his place. The landscape of Michael's deepening nightmare (``The sky was a veined animal turned inside out'') is portentous but so menacing that the Through the Looking-Glass plot seems almost gratuitous: this is one creepy book from the moment Michael's cat first jumps out his car window en route to his new home. Enough unpleasant atmosphere for a much twistier plot. This would make a truly scary movie: Are you listening, Polanski?

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-93349-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991